DEVON have been hit by a host of injuries and unavailabilities ahead of their final 2017 County Championship fixture against Kent at Barnstaple on Saturday (3pm).
Captain and flanker James Harris, centre Lewis Paterson, scrum-half Cameron Setter, fly-half Tom Whelan, number eight Sam Thomas, winger Tom Scoles, prop Matt Finn and lock Jack Fahy are among those ruled out.
“Unfortunately, we do have injuries and unavailabilities,” said player-coach Paterson. “But we are still going to be fielding a strong side.”
Martin Browne, Robin Luscombe, Isaac Dalton, Jack Bond, plus Ivybridge half-backs Mitch Pinkus (pictured above) and Ben Watts are among the players likely to come into the team, while youngster Dan Armstrong, son of former Albion and Royal Navy forward Bob, could also feature.
Devon have heavily lost their opening two games to Gloucestershire and Cornwall, but are looking to secure a vital win this weekend.
Although they cannot drop out of the top division of county rugby this season, points picked up this year will count towards next season’s relegation.
“It is important we try and pick up some league points to take that forward into next year,” said Paterson.
“We need to try and make home advantage work for us this weekend.
“Matches at Barnstaple normally produce a massive atmosphere and hopefully that will be good for us.”
Devon met Kent away in their final match last season, with the host’s winning to secure a place in the Division Two final.
“Last year was an absolute gutter,” said Paterson. “All we needed was a point to go to Twickenham. We went all the way to Kent and faced a very strong Kent side.
“For those who were involved last year there will be a bit of redemption to be done this week.”
Devon (from): Will Topps (Barnstaple), Jack Bond (Newton Abbot), Ollie Rice (Exmouth), Ryan Lee (Barnstaple), Harvey Ridgeway (Exmouth), Mitch Pinkus (Ivybridge), Ben Watts (Ivybridge), Charlie Briant (Ivybridge) Russell Morris (Brixham), Ashley Crouch (Barnstaple), Isaac Dalton (Exmouth), George Wilson (Ivybridge), Josh Rice (Honiton), Robin Luscombe (Kingsbridge), Martin Browne (Newton Abbot), Aidan Taylor (Exmouth), Brad Drew (Barnstaple), Alex Priest (Bideford), Garin Price (Newton Abbot), James Mattin (Exmouth), Dan Armstrong (Exmouth).